It is 2 a.m. and I am awake. I sit on the couch with my head in my hands. The leg pain that broke my slumber is now extreme. I have taken my medications, used my topical, and applied heat. All to no avail. Exhaustion meets pain as my eyes begin to fill. Another night has gone. Quietly, I begin to cry.
This is painsomnia.
Painsomnia refers to insomnia due to pain. The constant interruption of sleep is debilitating. Without adequate resources to fight pain, we flail. Our days become extensions of sleepless nights. The cycle perpetuates ad nauseam.
This is my life.
I have somehow adapted to the deprivation. While not ideal, it is my reality. Sometimes I fall asleep without issue. But the bewitching hour is never far behind. Other times the pain prevents me from ever falling asleep. These all-nighters exacerbate my already elevated levels of fatigue. I become the walking dead.
My legs are my archenemy. They burn and throb and are impossible to ignore. I have spells that last for hours. While I have medications to help, their efficacy is short-lived. More relief requires sedating medications throughout the day. Rest would come at the cost of daily productivity and purpose. That is too high a price.
There are nights when I cry out in sheer frustration. I revert to an infant and crave comforting. My body is waging an internal war and I suffer the fallout. Tears are often accompanied by primal, exhausted moans.
Painsomnia is debilitating. It unravels you from the inside out. It wears down every fiber of your sanity and being. I am so often caught up in battling symptomology that I wonder whether the cycle will ever cease. I do not know. I do know there are tools that might help. I encourage you to talk to your neurologist. Mine illuminated the importance of relaxation techniques alongside proper sleep hygiene. Proper nutrition and exercise can also help your body prepare for a restful night.
Painsomnia has proven to be one of the most difficult aspects of multiple sclerosis for me. Yet in the absence of sleep, I will continue to dream. For dreams are a necessity. And my dream is bigger than painsomnia.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.